By Angel Nuñez
Al Felly was no ordinary visitor to San Pedro. He was a professional florist of Madison Wisconsin, and like a regular tourist he loved fishing. However, he fell in love with the children of San Pedro, and when he became connected with them, he really got “hooked.” He visited with me back in 1972 when the school was just commencing. Since then both of us have retired, but the influence is still being felt and enjoyed in San Pedro.
In this series we will get to see in how many fashions Al Felly touched the lives of hundreds of Sanpedranos. Today this is his favorite phrase: “I think back when it all started - love it.”
One day Al said to me, “Angel, in the United States, all schools, especially colleges have what you call a Yearbook. It is an annual book with photos of students and life at school. Are you familiar with this and would you like to start one for San Pedro High?”
“Of course I am familiar with a yearbook. I have a copy of The Mangrove, which is the yearbook for Saint John’s College where I attended. Of course I would love to have one for San Pedro High, but that is very costly,” I remarked to Felly as we sat at the beach of Holiday Hotel planning for his Farewell Hot Dog Party. We both were on the same channel.
The next day Al Felly came early to school and spent the entire day and the following day snapping photos at all angles and all occasions. Because we were a small school of 75 students he was able to photograph each student individually. Then there were class photos, sports, typewriting, detentions, teachers in the classrooms, recreation period, and of course, some of his fishing trips and big catches with his guide Pete Graniel. Al, who had a good sense of humor, put together a few pages named “Half and Half” in which he cut two faces and put them together for the students to have a good laugh.
When Felly was back at home, he mailed to me hundreds of photos for us to select the ones we wanted in the yearbook and to label events and names. We mailed them back to him and he did the layout and printing of the book in Madison. Well he claimed he did the layout, but I have a strong feeling it was actually Eadie. It took a long year of waiting to be able to enjoy the yearbook and that was so because he never mailed the boxes of books for us. He simply wanted to have the pleasure and satisfaction of distributing the books all by himself on his next visit to Paradise. (Paradise was our name before Madonna came up with the “Isla Bonita” name)
The Athena, the name of San Pedro High School’s Yearbook commenced in 1975 and Al kept producing them until he finally retired from San Pedro. This he did after we completed our new high school building in 1987. At this time Al said, “Angel, my mission is completed. It is now your time to carry on. I challenge you to move on, independent of me, because I am absolutely confident that you can.” I recall those sad parting words of our beloved benefactor. At that time I kind of wished that our building had not been completed for Al and Eadie to keep on working alongside us. Today a lot of graduates still have fond memories of their high school days thanks to Al Felly’s contribution through the yearbook in which he documented life at San Pedro High from 1975 to 1987.
Pages of some the year books below:
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Richie’s Stationery -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
Contact the Author at: [email protected]